Cabrera-Bello upstages stars in Dubai

Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello leads an impressive field at the Dubai Desert Classic after the opening round Thursday.

Story highlights

  • Rafael Cabrera-Bello upstages stellar golfing cast to lead Dubai Desert Classic
  • Spaniard shoots nine-under after opening round of 63 to lead field by two shots
  • U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy and world No. 3 Martin Kaymer on six-under
  • World No. 2 Lee Westwood on three-under with Fred Couples one shot back

Spanish golfer Rafael Cabrera-Bello upstaged three of the world's top four players to lead the Dubai Desert Classic after a blistering opening round of nine-under-par 63.

The 27-year-old fired seven birdies on the back nine to give him a two-shot lead over the rest of a field, which includes world No. 2 Lee Westwood and No. 3 Rory McIlroy, the 2011 U.S. Open champion.

Germany's Marcel Siem and Scott Jamieson, from Scotland, were on the heels of Cabrera-Bello on seven under, with a clutch of players including McIlroy and Germany's world No. 4 Martin Kaymer on six under.

At one stage Cabrera-Bello was on course for a round under 60, a feat that has never been achieved on the European Tour, but the 2009 Dubai champion missed out by four shots.

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"Just for a second after the birdie on number two (his 11th hole) I tried to do the maths on what I needed for 59," the world No. 119 told the European Tour's official website.

"Then I told myself to stop being foolish and don't be too greedy. Nothing wrong happened -- there were some tough holes to come and I didn't drop a stroke.

    "It's a really, really good score, but in itself it means nothing. If you want to stay grounded you think of how many leaders of the first round win the tournament. Not that many."

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    McIlroy was watched during his opening round by girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, former women's tennis No. 1, and after completing his first eight holes in one over par, seven birdies in the final 10 holes transformed his day.

    "I was pretty slow starting off and after my best shot of the day on the seventh, three-putted from four feet," the Northern Irishman said.

    "I just needed to get something to happen, made a nice birdie on nine and went on a run from there. Seeing nine under on the leaderboard early is tough -- you think you should be doing better."

    Kaymer, the 2010 U.S. PGA champion, eagled the last to leap to keep pace with McIlroy, while England's Westwood carded four birdies and one bogey in his opening round to sit on three under.